1978. Directed by Richard Marquand

A Wheatley-esque film with strange power-laden people gathered at a remote house and seemingly in cahoots with the sable master.  There is no impetus to the film, but it does have a steady hold on the viewer with some subtle sinisterism thrown into the mix. 

The plot basically revolves around an American couple, namely Margaret Walsh (Katherine Ross) and Pete Danner (Sam Elliott) who are drawn to a British mansion whilst visiting these shores in the hopes of getting some interior decorating work.  The bike they are riding around on becomes involved in an accident and they are taken back to the home of one Jason Mountolive (John Standing).  Mr Mountolive is fine and dandy one minute, and then seen to be labouring the next with Margaret and Pete informed that he is a dying man.  Jason receives his guest in his sterilised hospital-like bedroom, he lies behind shrouded curtains and calls Margaret to his bedside where a vile hand reaches out and puts a ring on her finger.  The ring has significance, the other 5 guests whom we are introduced to all bear the same item of jewellery, it seems Margaret's arrival on the scene is not so coincidental after all.  From here we witness several deaths, learn that one of the guests is the chosen one, the one who will inherit all the wealth and power when Jason finally dies - but where does this power come from?

was rather absorbed by this film, but do regard it as a flick to watch now and again.  The pace is slow and steady and the tale far from original, but the stealthy approach has weight and the characters are rather convincing.



1964. Directed by Terence Fisher

A film with a fantastical title that leaves one salivating in anticipation, but a film that fails to deliver the goods and comes across as yet another cheapo construction done in double-quick time.  The elements of survival though keep one enthralled despite the flimsiness of the construct.

An English village is the scene of a catastrophe with the area laden with seemingly dead bodies.  A small group of survivors come together with the self-appointed leader being American jet test pilot, Jeff Nolan (Willard Parker).  It seems a strange chemical attack has wiped out most of the earth's populace, caused no doubt, by the robotic space figures seen prowling the streets.  One of the group, namely Violet Courtland (Vanda Godsell), thinks the robots have come to rescue them, but after making a mad dash to meet them she is duly struck down - so much for that idea then.  The group are now on high alert and things go up a notch when the recovered body of Violet rises and she is seen as a white-eyed zombie, controlled by the robotic forces who have plans to take over the Earth.  The race to escape increases from here, the actors are called upon to rise above mode 'dodgy' - can we dare hope for any semblance of success.

For lovers of the B-movie this will meet many needs, for those looking for flashy trimmings and hi-tech effects there will be much disappointment.  For me, the potential has not been fully tapped and things, nowadays, appear a little too obvious.  The fact is though I enjoyed it and will do so again, such is the curse of the B-movie addiction.



1973. Directed by William Friedkin

A heavy-duty horror film based on the book by William Peter Blatty that turned the genre on its head and brought many unforgettable bouts of terror never to be forgotten.  The mark made by this film is perhaps unsurpassed, the weight of the storyline is both absorbing and unsettling, and the escorting music adds a superb chill.

Lankester Merrin (Max Von Sydow) is a catholic priest who is on an archaeological dig where he uncovers a sculpture of the ancient demon, Pazuzu. A suggestion of a warning comes, a confrontation is to follow and Merrin seems to reel under the threat.  From here we travel to Georgetown where actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is living on location with her daughter Regan (Linda Blair).  In the McNeill house strange occurrences begin prior to Regan becoming gradually possessed and making sweet merry Hell. Chris MacNeil seeks all kinds of psychiatric and medical help before resorting to the use of a local priest, namely Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller), a man questioning his faith and yet prepared to indulge in the lost rite of exorcism.  Karras witnesses young Regan performing all manner of revolting and abhorrent behaviours and duly takes party in the banishing of the demon along with Merrin who has a score to settle.  The outcome is not a happy one, the draining tension and spiritual upheaval is dramatic in the extreme with many scenes utterly unforgettable.

For me, the power of this film, the oppressive feel and the almost blasphemous blatancy is what makes it a very absorbing piece.  The camera angles, the sterling acting and the profound mystery make it an utter classic never to be forgotten - watch it alone and feel its presence - all these years on it still has the power to upset.



1965. Directed by John Gilling.

Also known as The Blood Beast From Outer Space this is an allegedly a low-budget sci-fi movie, but one I find that is a highly convincing effort with a run of the mill storyline enhanced by some decent acting and a slow-moody atmosphere. This was a flick I had overlooked over many years, when finally viewing I was quite taken.

A strange sphere falls from outer-space. Scientist Jack Costain (John Saxon) working at Falsley Park Research Station along with his senior colleague Dr Morley (Maurice Denham) and Anne Barlow (Patricia Haines) conduct a series of experiments on the sphere under the watchful eye of an Army Major (John Carson).  One night, whilst working alone, Anne hears strange sounds coming from the locked away sphere and encounters the hand of a strange creature.  Dr Morley hears of this event and attempts to communicate with the aliean presence but loses his life.  Soon after, teenage girls begin to go missing after replying to an advert in 'Bikini Girl' magazine - Costain and the Major are quick to begin the hunt for the creature and to try and find out the reason for its visit.  The impetus to the finale is steady, the end reveal weak, but does the job.  It seems Earth, for now at least, is safe.

Based on a Frank Crisp novel, this B-movie is fluent, laden with recognisable faces and decent action and as an agreeable philosophical ending. There are far worse movies of this kind 'out there' and this is far better than I suspect it is given credit for.  Watch out for the scene with Marriane Stone and Warren Mitchell as Mr and Mrs Lilburn too - a moment of natural brilliance.



1940. Directed by Ernbest B. Schoedsack.

A sci-fi flick best remembered for its startling effects rather than its somehow mixed-up storyline. What we have here is a highly entertaining offering with little depth, but one that has a certain 'loveable' quality that makes it a must for the collectors of these outlandish treats.

Dr Alexander Thorkel (Albert Dekker) is a man considerate of the environment.  Alas the Dr is also a man unhinged and with a very low opinion of human life.  Tucked away in the Peruvian jungle he summons renowned biologists Dr Mary Robinson (Janice Logan) and Dr Rupert Bulfinch (Charles Halton) to his lab.  Along for the ride are mineralogist Bill Stockton (Thomas Coley) and a couple of extras who seem to be just making the numbers up.  Upon arrival they are asked to identify a specimen under the microscope which is duly done and followed by a request to leave.  Insulted the group set up camp in Thorkel's stockade, do a bit of snooping and discover that the crazed scientist is planning to shrink all humanity in order to minimise their impact on the environment. It is not long before Thorkel deals with the nosey parkers and brings them down to size (literally) with an action filled chase ensuing and bringing the film to a decent finish.

When watching this one I suggest you transport yourself back in time to 1940 and imagine how mesmerising the effects were and, in fact, still are.  For me, you can't beat a 'Mad Scientist' movie and this one fits the usual bill. I think Thorkel is up to scratch and those glasses and glabrous head make for a quite memorable look.



1978. Norman J. Warren

An independent horror film built around the theme of witchcraft and all-consuming possession.  The curse of a corrupted one is not be taken lightly as this low budget thriller relates, albeit in a rather gratuitous and flimsy way.

The film begins 300 years prior to the present day with the witch Mad Molly (Patti Love) invoking the devil whilst being burnt at the stake.  Lord Garrick (William Russell), who ordered the burning, runs back to his house to escape a blazing man and all manner of upheaval, whereupon he his strangled by a mystery arm that bursts through a wall.  Lady Garrick (Mary Maude) is beheaded soon after with a curse issued to the family's descendants issued.  Credits roll and it transpires that what we have witnessed is the end scenes of a horror film directed by James Garrick (John Nolan), the last of the Garrick line, along with his cousin Anne (Carolyn Courage).  The film is based on supposedly true events with Garrick now living in the original family house and the owner of Mad Molly's sword.  Murders follow and in the mix is some foul-language, full frontal nudity and some quite hapless acting.  The film rolls along at a lazy pace with some stale scenarios and odd inclusions thrown into the mix although several killings are noticeably effective and unsettling.  Come the end of matters Mad Molly has her revenge and the final switch-off is all too abrupt - I come out feeling more than a little deflated.

A poor film that was a real struggle to get through.  The premise is nothing outlandish and the delivery seems to lack a certain conviction and style.  The murder scenes are neatly executed though a few characters titivate, especially the common as muck gem known as Viv (Tricia Walsh).  Overall though this is a third-rate flick with little to entice one into a further viewing.



1971. Directed by Bob Wynn

A low budget sci-fi film with a decent storyline played out and reminding me of an old horror story I read regarding people being farmed for their organs.  This is a captivating film albeit done with a few cheesy moments and seemingly half-hearted attempts at comedy.

A car accident is witnessed by reporter Harry Walsh (Leslie Neilson).  Involved in the accident is Senator Clayton Zachary Wheeler (Bradford Dillman) who is taken away in an ambulance along with Walsh who duly escorts him.  After reporting the accident Walsh returns to the hospital to check up on Wheeler and is told that no such person has been admitted under the name given.  The plot thickens when Walsh's own boss tells him to drop his enquiries and Wheeler wakes up in a New Mexico hospital to find out his life has been saved by an ultra-organ transplant. Walsh is keen to get to the bottom of matters, Wheeler is far from happy after an attempted blackmail follows via the hospital Committee leader Hugh Fielding (Robert J. Wilke).  Wheeler refuses to play ball and threatens to expose the whole underhand operation. Fielding retaliates and warns him he will never win a presidential nomination if news regarding his heart transplant gets out.  Meanwhile Walsh is getting closer to uncovering the whole undercover operation with a few zombified shamblers entering the mix. The film races to a rather unsatisfactory and somewhat abrupt finish which is a shame, as things were going so well.

An odd film with an intriguing storyline.  The flow is decent and the characters hold attention but the finale is very weak indeed and not enough emphasis is placed on the shuffling dead - a shame, they looked a right sinister bunch.



1981. Directed by Tom Maylam

Typical early 80's fare when the video shop shelves were overladen with horror flicks such as the one under the spotlight.  Kids, a killer, a bit of bared breast and some gory scenes and that's about it - by heck some folk were making a real killing.

A prank goes wrong and a holiday camp caretaker known as Cropsy (Lou David) is badly burned.  5 years later we return to the camp where a new bunch of horny kids are on vacation, also at the camp is Cropsy who has been released from hospital after several hopeless skin grafts.  On his way to the camp he kills a prostitute, just to keep his hand in it seems.  With revenge on his mind the Caretaker from Hell sets about picking off the kids in all manner of ways, using nothing more than his trusted shears and a brutal bloodlust.  The pack of young folk contains the usual weirdo, namely Alfred (Brian Backer), the jokers, and a musclebound hunk called Glazer (Larry Joshua) who has the brain of a sexed-up amoeba.  Of course, several young women are in the mix and duly bare all to keep folk titillated and the killer duly annoyed.  Eventually a showdown comes when original prankster Todd (Brian Matthews) who is now one of the group leaders, faces off with his old adversary - the title of the film may hint at how the demise of the murderer comes about.

An average flick at the most with one or two scenes memorable, the end reveal not too bad on the eye and the acting just about acceptable.  This is pure gratuitous garbage that is easy to watch and throw in the bin, sometimes this is no bad thing.



1974. Directed by Bob Clarke

A cracking film inspired by the legendary tale by W. W. Jacobs that sees wishes and prayers answered in the most horrendous way possible.  The slow creeping style of the film and a distinctly unsettling lead character all make for a solid horror experience.

The film opens in 1972 Vietnam where American soldier Andy Brooks (Richard Backus) is shot down by a sniper and falls to the ground. As he dies, he hears his mother's voice calling out, 'Andy, you'll come back. You've got to. You promised' - from here things become quite unhinged.  Back in the USA Andy's family receive news that he his dead only for the said soldier to turn up in the middle of the night after killing a lorry driver who had given him a lift.  Andy's behaviour is utterly bizarre, he lives an almost emotionless carefree life with the family troubled by his lack of communication and empathy.  An explosive burst of ill temper comes when Andy strangles the pet dog whereupon his father (John Marley) gets the local doctor (Henderson Forsythe) to have a word with him.  This attempt at getting to the crux of the problem upsets Andy with the medical man eventually paying the price for his intrusion.  The film moves on and culminates when Andy's sister and her boyfriend decide to organise a foursome date with Andy and his ex Joanne (Jane Daly).  At the local drive-in things become warped and a trifle gruesome with a following chase and end scene rounding off a quite convincing film.

The main strength of this film is its off-centre focus, the disturbing behaviour of the zombified soldier and the witnessing of a family torn apart by something beyond the grave.  I think this is a real underground classic and one that perhaps has more depth than given credit for.  A fine take on the original 'Monkey's Paw' tale. 



1940. Directed by Jean Yarborough

Bela Lugosi stars in this short enthralling film that has dubious effects, an orthodox storyline and some average acting, but which still manages to entertain.  I expected little, I was duly surprised. If you have an old black and white horror film with a bit of atmosphere and a few flying bats then success for the obsessed is almost guaranteed. 

Dr Carruthers (Bela Lugosi) is offered $5, 000 from the company he works for as a reward for his creative talents in the world of perfumery.  Carruthers is embittered and insulted after seeing his colleagues get rich on his hard work whilst he receives a pittance after selling his shares.  Never fear, Carruthers has a plan to get even and after enlarging a few bats and sending them out to kill his chosen victims it seems as though the twisted one will get the ultimate triumph.  This murderous scheme is done with the use of a potent cologne that the bats are trained to hone in on, alas for the dastardly doctor the plan backfires and the master of the flying mammals is done for.  Reporter Johnny Layton (Dave 0' Brien) gets assigned to the case by his editor (Arthur Q. Bryan) and by hook or crook they help solve the murders. He is joined by the staggering cretin of a photographer "One-Shot" McGuire (Donald Kerr) who adds a touch of comedy.

A simple film with a simple plot, but for me it is an entertaining trip back in Horror-time with a decent yarn played out in convincing style.  These short running ventures into the fantastic are just delicious treats and done on a budget that in many cases, belies the time and monetary restrictions that so often hindered production. 


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